A message to all at St Albans City Youth FC from Craig Mackail-Smith
Craig with the City Youth 2002 County Cup Winners
I played for both the Midweek Youth and Sunday Team for St Albans City Youth from the age of 14-18 and had a fantastic time.
I first played for the St Albans City 1st Team when I was 16 and was involved in some of the matches for 4 years.
It didn’t work out for me with the 1st Team so I joined Ryman Division 1 team Arlesey Town where I played a whole season of men’s football and really enjoyed it for the first time. A fond memory of that year was playing Dagenham and Redbridge in the FA Umbro Trophy drawing 3-3. I set up all 3 goals and went on to score 2 in a 4-2 victory in the replay.
I signed for Dagenham when I was 21 which is when I played football full-time. This was an amazing feeling as this was a dream come true. I had a great 2 ½ years with the Club in which time we gained promotion to the Conference and Football League.
I moved to Peterborough for a fee of £125,000 and had an amazing 4 ½ years scoring 99 goals in 200 appearances and winning 3 promotions, 2 to the Championship and 1 to Division 1. I was lucky enough to get called up to the Scotland National Team being in the squad which played Brazil, one of the best international teams in the world, making my dreams come true!
Craig playing for Scotland
I then signed for Brighton for a fee of just over £3 million. I spent 4 years at the Club but it was my most difficult spell in football as I was side-lined for 15 months after rupturing my Achilles. I did go on to win 6 more caps for Scotland including one against world champions Spain in a European Championship Qualifying game.
When my contract ended at Brighton, I joined Luton Town joining up again with manger John Still. I have enjoyed one season at Luton and am looking forward to the coming one with enthusiasm.
Craig on the field for Luton Town FC
I am now 32, having been blessed with a good career - better than I could have hoped for when I signed my first professional contract at 23 proving that you don't always have to be young to get a chance in the game.
I had a fantastic time in the St Albans City Youth set up and feel it gave me a really good start on my journey in the game.
Luton Town FC, Scotland and St Albans City Youth FC